November 11, 2022 6:00am
The late Joe Egan of Sarnia was like so many Canadian men of his generation. The Second World War meant that young men would need to volunteer to take up arms against the facist threat of the Nazis. When Canada called, Joe Egan answered. He served on a navy ship in the Atlantic. With German U-Boats patrolling the ocean, looking for merchant ships and navy ships to torpedo, the risk of death was a daily reality.
But where Egan differed from many of his comrades, was his understanding that many of the German sailors who were trying to kill him were not Nazis. Many were, like him, men who had patriotically answered the call of their country. So, when he was tasked with looking after U-Boat sailors who were taken prisoner, he treated them with kindness, dignity, and respect. So much so that the captain of U-575 invited him to the crew’s reunion years later, a reunion he travelled to Germany to attend.
This is his story.